Top 5 Things I Want to See from Kingdom Hearts IV

It’s hard to believe it’s already been over a year since Kingdom Hearts IV was officially announced and unveiled. The reveal trailer was wholly unexpected in its presentation and tone, drastically differing from the series’ usual ambiance. However, since then, we haven’t learned or seen much else regarding this upcoming mainline title other than a few comments and interviews.

With that being the case, I wanted to sort through my myriad of thoughts surrounding Kingdom Hearts IV and firmly establish what I want to see from it. For those unaware, Kingdom Hearts is my favorite video game series of all time, and I’ve been with it since its inception, so my attachment to it is pretty strong, to put it mildly. Still, as much as I love this franchise, there are specific facets I’d like to see changed or refined, so let’s dive into my wants.

Fewer, But Denser Worlds

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A significant roadblock I think many fans are overlooking regards how expensive video game production has become. Nomura alluded to this point in an interview with Game Informer; the high cost of achieving modern graphical quality will likely make it so there isn’t enough realistic budget to craft a plethora of worlds.

“As far as the graphic qualities … since with each new title, the specs have been really increasing and there’s so much more we can do in terms of graphics, it kind of limits the number of worlds that we can create in a sense.”

Kingdom Hearts III started going down in this direction, and we’ll likely see it embraced even further in Kingdom Hearts IV. Of course, this isn’t a certainty, especially since that statement from Nomura is all we have on the matter, but I do hope it’s true.

That may sound strange since one of the first potential desires many would perceive Kingdom Hearts fans to possess is to have as much Disney/Final Fantasy/Original world representation as possible, but quantity never equals quality. The most poignant example is Kingdom Hearts II, which had plenty of worlds at the cost of most not being particularly memorable or effective. Even as someone who loves Kingdom Hearts II as I do the rest of the franchise, its world utilization was highly lacking.

Most may argue this point, but the worlds in Kingdom Hearts III were excellent if you value thematic storytelling, and I believe if this less is more approach is tackled in an even more refined fashion, Kingdom Hearts IV may match the original Kingdom Hearts and Dark Road for best Disney world implementation. Plus, simply having more to explore and rewards for doing so would be ideal; essentially, the first game’s level design melded with the world size of Kingdom Hearts III.

Growth/Movement Abilities

Kingdom Hearts IV

One of my favorite concepts in Kingdom Hearts II is growth abilities, skills tied to Drive Forms that enhance Sora’s maneuverability in crucial ways. Valor Form, for instance, lets Sora high jump, while Limit Form grants Dodge Roll. However, these abilities are initially only available in the Drive Forms themselves, and the Forms have to be leveled for these movement abilities to be useable as base Sora.

I love the idea of upgradeable movement, yet in Kingdom Hearts II, no area requires the usage of any of these growth abilities. Practically the entire game is highly linear with no thought-provoking path deviation or progression. The Final Mix release added collectible puzzle pieces and the Cavern of Remembrance, but those are more band-aid solutions than anything else.

I’d like to see this mechanic revisited in Kingdom Hearts IV, with Sora automatically given the first level of movement abilities, ensuring that the team can design areas with them in mind. Additionally, a couple of side paths or dead-ends that can only be reached with higher levels of these growth maneuvers can provide reasons to revisit previous locations.

In essence, it’d be an expanded execution of how the first game and Birth by Sleep handled their world design, except in a far more intricate fashion. The first Kingdom Hearts title was ingeniously designed with its exploration, and I don’t think any game in the series since has succeeded quite as strongly.

With Kingdom Hearts IV at least partially set in Quadratum as a potential hub, you can have several areas only accessible at later points; just a thought — it reminds me of Traverse Town a bit.

More Varied Magic Spells

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Magic in the Kingdom Hearts series has gone through more shakeups than you would expect. Between the spell lineup altering across the mainline entries and games like Birth by Sleep and 358/2 Days changing the systems entirely, everyone has their favorite interpretation of the general mechanic.

Honestly, I was disappointed with Kingdom Hearts III’s take on magic. Grand Magic is neat, and being able to equip weaker versions of a spell is an underrated feature, but I felt there were too few spells overall, and you rarely had to think about which to use in several combat scenarios.

Blizzard can be used to create ice slides, a cool idea with little practical benefit. Fire is just a standard projectile; I would have vastly preferred Kingdom Hearts II’s more unorthodox approach with it. Further, I used Aeroga and Thundaga interchangeably. The former can be utilized as an avenue for flowmotion, yet I at least rarely did so consciously.

Water was the only spell I felt was genuinely creative since it can provide temporary protection if cast at the right time, making it far more context-sensitive than any other spell in the game. It almost feels like less broken and more constructive variations of Reflect from Kingdom Hearts II and Aero from the first Kingdom Hearts.

Still, I’d like to see the return of previous spells like Gravity from the first game or Magnet from Kingdom Hearts II. Birth by Sleep and Dream Drop Distance had a slew of wild spells like variations of Fire (Crawling Fire, Fission Firaga, Triple Firaga) and new magic like the Mines and Quake that I’d like to see reimagined in a non-command deck system.

Actually, maybe spell customization could work. Weaving in synthesis elements from the command deck games to provide different takes on spells can offer immense player choice and freedom. I’m fully aware that such a system is expecting too much, though.

Synthesis Enhancements & Refinements

Kingdom Hearts IV

Like the various magic systems throughout the games, Kingdom Hearts has had several iterations of synthesis, both drastically and slightly different from one another. For instance, the first Kingdom Hearts was highly straightforward, with you simply unlocking more recipes as you crafted them. Kingdom Hearts II then expanded upon this idea by adding a leveling system to the mechanic and ways to lessen the required materials.

Unfortunately, Kingdom Hearts III ditched those notions, instead opting for a system closer to the first game. The Photo Missions and Keyblade Forge were appreciated features, yet they didn’t feel significant enough in application. In Kingdom Hearts IV, I’d like to see Kingdom Hearts II’s synthesis system return since it felt most rewarding by far. Additionally, having the Kingdom Hearts III Keyblade Forge and something akin to Photo Missions would also sweeten the deal.

However, above all else, enemies listed in the journal must have item drops listed with percentages. This is a standard practice nowadays, and its lack of inclusion makes synthesis grinding an unnecessarily time-wasting chore. If Kingdom Hearts IV at least implements this, I’ll be happy.

Continue to Take Itself Seriously

Kingdom Hearts IV

This point is not gameplay-focused like the previous ones, but I’d argue it’s equally, if not more, important. One of the main “issues” I see many players and non-players have with Kingdom Hearts is how, despite its premise, it still tackles its cast and narrative seriously. A consensus I frequently see is that this collective writing decision somehow lessens the enjoyability of the series for reasons I’ve never been able to genuinely understand.

Personally, and I know this is the case with other fans too, Kingdom Hearts taking itself seriously is what has kept me invested. If these games constantly treated themselves as vapid jokes meant to laugh at the absurdity of their ideas, then there’d be no reason to stick around or feel any remote semblance of attachment. There’s a sense of genuineness with Kingdom Hearts that makes it what it is, and if that were to vanish, then this simply wouldn’t be Kingdom Hearts anymore. Even during the instances where a self-referential joke is made, it’s never at the cost of mocking the series’ identity.

Considering how much more solemn Kingdom Hearts IV seems to be, I’m not too concerned about this potentiality. Still, with how much bashing the franchise seems to get, the possibility of seeing it reduced to a laughing stock in an official manner is something I occasionally worry about in the back of my mind.


Hopefully, with Final Fantasy XVI released and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth now reaching its full swing, we will see more news of Kingdom Hearts IV soon. Even if it’s just a brief trailer or a staff comment, I think we’d all appreciate some official acknowledgment regarding development. Then there’s also Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link, which is in somewhat the same boat…

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Check out our review of Kingdom Hearts Dark Road.

In Kingdom Hearts IV, Sora is in Quadratum with Strelitzia, a prominent character from Kingdom Hearts Union χ. This setting is an afterworld for the two characters following their tragic fates.

Additionally, this new saga has been titled the Lost Master Arc. Further, some combat footage was showcased, with Sora performing Keyblade transformations against a giant entity that seems to be a Heartless? We don’t know for sure.

“The heart resides within the soul, which in turn is guided by fate to its rightful place” is a crucial phrase used at the start of this trailer for the upcoming mainline game.

Kingdom Hearts IV is in development with an unknown release date and unconfirmed platforms.

Kingdom Hearts Missing-Link will launch for mobile devices via iOS and Android at an unknown time.

Check out my analyses of the Kingdom Hearts III Re Mind data fights.

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Orpheus Joshua

Random gamer equally confused by the mainstream and the unusual.